Sci Fi Writing Salon

(Copied from the FB page where you can register for this workshop.)

“If we want to see women of color safe, happy, healthy and in power in the future, we must write/create worlds that are worthy of us.” – adrienne maree brown.

On Saturday July 12 poetry platform RE:Definition, feminist collective Redmond and Amsterdam’s American Book Center are hosting a sci fi writing salon with adrienne maree brown (co-editor of “Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction from Social Justice Movements) and Rochita Loenen-Ruiz (Octavia Butler scholar).

— Event info —
Doors open: 14.45h
Writing salon: From 15.00h until 18.00h.
Location: ABC Treehouse* (address: Voetboogstraat 11, 1012 XK A’dam)
Entrance: Free!
Reservations: Due to limited seating, reservations are required. To do so, please go to the Facebook Event page mention the number of seats (max. 3) you’d like to reserve.
What to bring: Something to write on and something to write with.

* ABC Treehouse is around the corner from sushi spot Tokyo Café at Spuiplein. When facing Tokyo Café, walk to the right; Voetboogstraat is the first street to your left.

— Links —
adrienne maree brown – http://adriennemareebrown.net/
Octavia’s Brood – http://www.octaviasbrood.com/
Rochita Loenen-Ruiz – http://rcloenenruiz.com/
Redmond – http://www.redmondamsterdam.com/
RE:Definition – http://www.wedefineus.wordpress.com
American Book Center – http://www.abc.nl

Links and things to read

Movements: Translations, the Mother Tongue and Acts of Resistance is now live on Strange Horizons. Elisabeth Vonarburg’s The Chambered Nautilus also appears in this issue. It’s my first time to read her and I’m so glad Aliette de Bodard chose her story for this curated issue. You can read Aliette’s introduction here.

In the same issue is an essay by Jaymee Goh: Once More with Feeling: A Belated Response.

Fellow Filipino writer, Victor Ocampo has a new story up at Apex Magazine. Blessed are the Hungry is an interesting work which also breaks language hegemony and demonstrates code written into story. I like how it references a famous Filipino movie by Ismael Bernal.

Apex Magazine’s July issue is filled with interesting reading provides the reader with an interesting and diverse line-up. I quite enjoyed Rose Lemberg’s Baba Yaga Tries to Donate Money.

Benjanun Sriduangkaew’s novelette, Courtship in the Country of the Machine Gods, also appears in this issue as a reprint. The Apex Book of World SF 3 edited by Lavie Tidhar features this novelette and is now available.

(I’m thrilled to see that this volume also includes a reprint from Swedish writer, Karin Tidbeck whose work I adore.)

Of the stories published in Clarkesworld Magazine, I’ve only read N.K. Jemisin’s Stone Hunger. I like how the story makes use of the fairytale frame, the familiar becoming unfamiliar, it’s a story I want to read again at more leisure.

I’m working slowly through a post on the Decolonization process and Science Fiction. At the moment I have so many words on the page and I need to group them together so they form a cohesive whole.

Lately, I’ve been reading Leny M. Strobel, Virgil Mayor Apostol and Barbara Jane Reyes. Artists, writers, culture bearers.

Fantasticon Report-observations, thoughts and discussions

20140614_183042[1]

 had a really great time at Fantasticon. I was housed in a lovely hotel called Fy & Bi in Valby. We had lovely weather and the walk from the hotel to the cultural center where the con was being held was quite a nice one.

Fantasticon was a very good opportunity to get to meet Danish writers of the fantastic and I loved that I got to find out firsthand about the state of genre in Denmark. I didn’t get to see a lot of bookshops, but I did go back and investigate the shelves of a bookshop I’d visited together with Karin Tidbeck.

The Scandinavian countries seem to share quite a number of things in common when it comes to challenges in genre. I couldn’t help but wish someone would already invent that built-in translator device where you plug yourself in and you can read and understand whatever language is used in whatever country you visit.

Con organizers, Jesper Rugard Jensen and Lars Ahn gave me the lowdown on how genre is doing on the evening that I arrived in Copenhagen. What genre struggles with is the general impression or stereotype that genre has had to struggle with in many places in the world. In Denmark, they find themselves going up against that thing where people call certain things high literature and other things low literature and genre seems to be pushed into this box with a huge label on it marked: FOR CHILDREN.

I’m not very fond of this inclination as I tend to think that literature is whatever’s written and we read it (I’m literal like that). Some literature is bad and some is good. Some I’ll like, some I won’t like. I also think that labels are only helpful for marketing but they don’t really help the people who read.

But not everyone is like me and what these labels mean is that a lot of Danish folk read fantastic and speculative fiction until a certain age and if you’re an adult who still likes science fiction and fantasy, people will look at you askance. This mirrors some of the attitude that I see in The Netherlands and is to some extent similar to what I’ve seen in The Philippines (although it’s gotten much better over there since they’ve started producing soaps that take inspiration from historical characters and epic tales).

Karin Tidbeck told me that this is the same thing they’ve been up against in Sweden. According to Karin, Nene Ormes’s work has played an important role in making fantasy more mainstream as Nene has created this fantastic world that mines Swedish myth and history. I now want to read Nene’s books, but translation takes a lot of time of effort and money and until someone does that, it’s either I wait or learn Swedish. (I wonder if I’ll learn Swedish before translations happen).

A lot of the conversations that we had during the con was about language, the use of language, and translations–the use and the challenges of. It was great to sit in a room with writers and translators who had firsthand experience with translating either their own work or the work of others. It’s heartening to see the spirit of generosity that exists within the community as we see writers who translate work for other writers or translators who give their services all free of charge. It made me wonder though how it would change things if writers didn’t have to expend their energy on translating their work. If professional translators could be paid to do the work, wouldn’t this free up time and energy for writers to write more new work?

While we see very little traffic going outward, where Danish or Swedish writing gets translated into English, there seems to be quite a good bit of translation going on from English. In one of the bookshops, I noticed that they stocked books from popular authors like Neil Gaiman and George R. R. Martin. I think I saw Joe Abercrombie on the shelves and Stephen King, but there’s not really much to choose from and there were no local authors at all–well, at least none that sounded Danish or English. In another bookshop, I did see work from Tove Johanssen and Peter Hoeg. But really not very much that I could identify as genre.

20140616_113519[1] I can’t help but think that there’s some connection missing there somehow. Karin talked about how language colonialism, but I wonder if it goes even deeper than that. I’d be speculating at this point, of course…but I can’t help but think I need to do more real research. It seems to me that there should be some way to break through those false barriers that keep people from reading work that’s locally produced.

I find myself wondering if being translated into English affects the way we receive certain works? Does a local being published in the US or the UK affect our perception of that author’s work? To what extent does publication in the US or the UK influence or affect how we receive the work or perceive the author?

A lot of questions that still need to be asked. It makes me think that there’s still quite a bit of work to be done when it comes to breaking the stereotype that people have attached to science fiction and the fantastic in these countries.

(On an aside, it does seem that Anime and Manga are a big thing in Denmark too. So, there’s that as well.)


20140613_115728[1]My thanks again to the con organizers who invited me. To the Danish writers, translators and readers who generously shared of their knowledge, their experiences and the challenges they face in genre. Thank you. It was hyggeligt. :D

 

Fantasticon

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I’ll be leaving tomorrow evening for Copenhagen, Denmark, where Fantasticon is taking place. The past weeks have been quite busy. I’ve been working and experimenting with language and the new work that I’ve produced incorporates Filipino, Ilokano and Ifugao into the body of the text in more definite way than before. I was thinking of how many of us have been compelled to write in English and I find myself wondering how stories and texts would change if I used the languages I grew up with into my stories. I’ve incorporated the language mindfully, fitting the texts to the story that is taking shape.

Anyway, before I get sidetracked into writing an essay, I thought I’d post my schedule for Fantasticon:

Saturday:

11.00-12.00, Room 1
Translation of Speculative Fiction (Rochita Loenen-Ruiz) – English

13.00-14.00, Room 3
GoH Interview: Rochita-Loenen Ruiz (I: Karin Tidbeck) – English

15.00-16.00, Room 1
GoH Readings: Paul McAuley & Rochita Loenen-Ruiz – English

16.00-17.00, Room 3
Panel: Challenging Stereotypes in SF and Fantasy (Rochita Loenen-Ruiz,
Karin Tidbeck, A. Silvestri & Lars Ahn Pedersen) – English

Sunday:

17.00-18.00, Room 3
Panel: Is There Still Need for Science Fiction in a Science Fictional
World? (Paul McAuley, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Klaus Æ. Mogensen &
Flemming R. P. Rasch) – English

In preparation, I’ve done some reading up on previous cons and dipped a bit into the history of sf/f in Denmark. I look forward to meeting fellow writers and lovers of the speculative and hope for stimulating and fruitful conversations.

New Process Conversation up on the book blog

Drop by and check out A Process Conversation with Anil Menon and Vandana Singh. I’m so pleased we’re able to feature this interview on the blog and I readers enjoy it too.

“I think we’re going to be seeing a major breakout of some truly radical SFF from the rest of the world, including Indian writers. But attitude and high expectations are key.”

Go there to read more.

More things I should be posting about

Cristina Jurado interviewed me for El Fantascopio and the interview has gone live. You can read it in Spanish here and in English here. It’s heartwarming to find out that readers in Spain have also read some of my work and I want to thank Cristina and El Fantascopio for thinking of me and for taking the time to interview me.

The latest installment of my Movements column, Brown Woman at Work, was published on Strange Horizons. I write about navigating the waters of being a writing mother in a conservative Dutch community and how important it is to write truthfully.

I was thinking about process and how I write and why I am unable to bring myself to write to a formula. I tweeted about how writing these columns feels like going naked and Kate Elliott tweeted back and reminded me that all writing that matters is a little bit naked.

I want to always approach my work in a mindful way–writing what I believe in and writing truthfully. Some truths are very hard to write about and there are some truths that I still struggle with, but I am getting there.